The neurophysiological index of visual working memory maintenance is not due to load dependent eye movements

Min-Suk Kang, Geoffrey F Woodman
Neuropsychologia 2014, 56: 63-72
The Contralateral Delayed Activity (CDA) is slow negative potential found during a variety of tasks, providing an important measure of the representation of information in visual working memory. However, it is studied using stimulus arrays in which the to-be-remembered objects are shown in the periphery of the left or the right visual field. Our goal was to determine whether fixational eye movements in the direction of the memoranda might underlie the CDA. We found that subjects' gaze was shifted toward the visual field of the memoranda during the retention interval, with its magnitude increasing with the set size. However, the CDA was clearly observed even when the subjects' gaze shifts were absent. In addition, the magnitude of the subjects' gaze shifts was unrelated to their visual working memory capacity measured with behavioral data, unlike the CDA. Finally, the onset latency of the set size dependent eye movements followed the onset of the set size dependent CDA. Thus, our findings clearly show that the CDA does not represent a simple inability to maintain fixation during visual working memory maintenance, but that this neural index of representation in working memory appears to induce eye movements toward the locations of the objects being remembered.

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